Jack R. Crosby, Cable Television Pioneer, Dies at 90

Courtesy of Ellen M. Harrington
Jack R. Crosby

The Texas entrepreneur also served on the boards at Imagine Entertainment, Orion Pictures and Propaganda Films.

Jack R. Crosby, a cable television pioneer in the U.S. and overseas and a board member at Imagine Entertainment, Orion Pictures and Propaganda Films, has died. He was 90.

Crosby died Friday at a senior-care facility in Austin, Texas, said his daughter-in-law Ellen Harrington, museum collections curator at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Companies that Crosby founded or co-founded grew into the cable behemoths Cox Communications and Times Mirror (Time Warner), and he helped facilitate the development of the Spanish International Network (now known as Univision), the first Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S.

Crosby provided consultation services to the governments of West Germany, Austria and the Netherlands to boost the development of cable TV in those countries, and with his longtime partner, Fred Lieberman, he constructed some of the first European cable systems in Switzerland, Mexico and Argentina.

Crosby served as a director and interim CEO of Imagine Entertainment, as a director at Orion Pictures and as chairman of Propaganda Films. He also had a stint as chairman of the National Cable Television Association.

In 1981, Crosby became a founding board member of the Sundance Institute and later served as its chairman. His company Rust Properties built the first cottages at the Sundance Resort in Park City, Utah, to support the nascent Sundance Film Institute and its film festival.

Through his venture capital firm, he also was instrumental in starting the Sundance Catalogue to support the Sundance Institute.

Crosby studied business at the University of Texas and spent two years in the U.S. Naval Air Corps as a gunnery instructor.

In the mid-1950s, he borrowed $10,000 to construct the second private microwave network in the U.S. It transmitted TV signals between his hometown of Del Rio, Texas, and nearby San Antonio, dramatically improving the quality of reception.

Survivors also include his wife of 67 years, Joanne, and their children, Chris, Jim and Clay.